USER (31Oct06): To Kill a Mockingbird
Birmingham Rep, 30 October 2006
Produced by West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Rep, Watershed Productions and The Touring Consortium.
A capacity audience were at The Rep last night to see Christopher Sergel's excellent stage adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer prize-winning novel. Written by Harper Lee in the late 1950s the story was originally snapped up by Hollywood and made into an award-winning film in 1962, which won three Oscars, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck in the leading role of Atticus Finch.
The story takes place in Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. The action is seen through the eyes of 8-year-old Scout Finch (played by Bettrys Jones), her older brother Jem (played by Craig Vye) and their summertime visitor Dill (played by Jean-Marc Perret). All 3 actors have perfected the southern drawl but because of this at times it was difficult to follow all that was said.
When their father Atticus Finch, a local lawyer, (played by Duncan Preston), represents a poor disabled black man Tom Robinson, (played by Vinta Morgan) on a charge of the rape of a young white girl, Mayella Ewell (played by Sally Tatum) their life is changed forever. It is the courtroom drama in Act 2 and the subsequent events that remain shocking and moving. Act 1 whilst setting the scene for what was to come needed to be tighter and faster paced.
Duncan Preston is a very well known television actor and it is perhaps his long association with comedienne Victoria Wood, and TV comedies like Acorn Antiques and Dinner ladies that most people will know him for. Here however you will find a very different actor whose name should in all fairness be along side the title of this play or even above it. His commanding presence in the central role of Atticus Finch is powerful and believable. His final address to the jury is a masterpiece.
Directed by Michael Buffong with a splendid cast and with an excellent set designed by Simon Higlett in which you could almost feel the heat of the courtroom this is a drama well worth seeing.
This excellent production continues at The Rep until Saturday 18 November 2006.